- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – Until the Cowboys win in December, the closing month will always be the toughest stretch of games.
Three of the Cowboys’ December opponents had winning records in 2012 (Chicago, Green Bay, Washington) and two made the playoffs (Packers, Redskins). The Bears finished 10-6 in 2012 and lost out on a wild-card spot due to tiebreakers.
Winning at Chicago in December is a difficult challenge, but the Bears have changed coaches and have parted ways with future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher. The Cowboys will also look to avenge a 34-18 drubbing last season at Cowboys Stadium in which Tony Romo was intercepted five times.
The first time Green Bay played in Cowboys Stadium, it won Super Bowl XLV. Aaron Rodgers is at the top of the quarterback charts in the NFL and Clay Matthews signed an extension this week. The last time the Cowboys played the Packers happened to be Wade Phillips last game as coach, a 45-7 thrashing at Lambeau Field on Nov. 7, 2010.
Every Cowboys fan should remember what happened when their team visited Washington to close the 2012 season. Romo was intercepted three times and the Cowboys limped home with a 28-18 loss to finish 8-8 for the second straight year. Any trip to FedEx Field has been a grind for the Cowboys. Robert Griffin III makes it that much harder.
Closing the year at home against Philadelphia will be nice after the Cowboys failed to win de facto NFC East championship games at MetLife Stadium to the Giants and FedEx Field to the Redskins in 2011 and ’12. In fact, the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs was in 2009 when they ended the year by beating the Eagles and beat them again a week later in the wild-card round.
What could help the Cowboys entering December is a late bye (Nov. 17) and the 10-day break after the Thanksgiving Day game. That time off could benefit the team’s health.